Monday, 10 February 2014

Dorinda Hafner is an

Adelaide identity, a "tv chef" with a larger than life personality and  a sense of humour. She also happens to come from Africa, Ghana to be precise.
She is a highly intelligent woman who trained as a nurse but has also worked as a story teller, actress and public speaker as well as a television chef. Her cook books are fun to read.
Many moons ago she taught me how to make a highly spiced peanut stew for an African evening my mother was having at her church. It was apparently well received but I have not made it again as I was given another recipe by another African friend. Still, there are some other interesting and unusual recipes in Dorinda's books.
But Dorinda has been in the news again recently. She was commenting on the racism she has come up against here.
It saddens me but it did not surprise me. When I was small it was unusual to see anything but "white" faces around Adelaide. There was the occasional, very occasional, aboriginal but that was it.
Out in the rural areas in which we lived there were aboriginal faces as well as white faces. As children we just accepted them. Although my mother had things to say about their cleanliness and warned us not to accept food from them we played quite happily with any child who happened to be around.
It has gone on that way for us. For many years one of my best friends was a very dark skinned aboriginal woman. Her house was spotless and her children were too - when the occasion demanded it. When Rosie died I wept. Her son asked me to speak at her funeral and I managed - just. I had the curious experience of being surrounded by many, many dark faces - dark, friendly faces. I was "Rosie's friend" and that was enough for them. I was hugged and I hugged in return. Years later we all still miss Rosie's good sense and her robust approach to life. She was "mother" to an entire community.
I wish Rosie was still around. She would have written a scathing letter to the paper about "your lot" and "our mob". In this case "your lot" would not have been those with white faces and "our mob" would not have been those with dark faces. "Your lot" would have been those who judge on appearance and "our mob" would have been those who judge on character.
I much prefer to judge people on character. I can claim Africans, Asians, Indians, Muslims, Jews, Christians and just about anything else as people I am friendly with. Some of them are also friends, good friends. My two godchildren are Chinese. I like it that way. Life is even more interesting - and not just because you can learn how to make peanut stew or go to a bar mitzvah or wear a sari at a Hindu wedding. I have done all those things and more.
People with a racist outlook on life miss out on so much.

1 comment:

Helen Devries said...

Closed minds are a curse for the rest of us.